New HAM in Nova Scotia

My name is John Bignell and I am from Halifax Nova Scotia. My family name is originally from Hasting England.

I am less than 30 days with my call sign and I am excited to join the amazing world of amateur radio. I have a passion for hiking and camping and can not wait until I can pair the two of them together. I currently only have a 2m radio but will be looking at adding more in the future. I am open to any suggestions for portable radio options. I can not wait until I can reach my first summit and connect with the SOTA family.


Welcome to the group. Should you travel across our marvellous country to Alberta, please send me a note, I would be delighted to introduce you to the locals and activate a peak with you.




Greetings from the west coast of Wales and congratulations on your call sign & welcome to the world of Amateur Radio. I look forward to chasing you when you get on HF and activate a few summits your side. You forgot to mention your first name, mine is Don.

73’s Don GW0PLP.

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Hello, may i suggest grabbing a Yaesu FT-857d while they are still available. This a do-it-all radio,very rugged and reliable. I have been using one of these on my Sota’s for a few years now and am very satisfied with it.

A slim-Jim antenna or a “tape measure” beam does a very good job for VHF-UHF.

For HF a lightweight telescoping mast with a multi-band end-fed sloper proves very effective and light weight.

Hope to hear you one of these days on a Sota as i haven’t logged any activations yet from the maritimes.

And most importantly don’t forget a light weight battery (lithium) yes they are expensive but well worth it.

Take a look at my QRZ page for info about my Sota material:

73 and enjoy ! :mountain_snow:


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Congrats on your ticket! VE1 land is pretty rare for activation so you’re going to become a popular person!

Those who have been most successful with a 2M FM exclusive activation are usually those activating within 100 miles of a heavily populated area and/or have per-arranged for local hams to be looking for them. In the midwest of the USA, where I activate, this isn’t usually possible.

Eric has a good suggestion on the FT-857 and I can tell you he puts on a bang’n signal with it. I use it’s little brother the FT-817 with a small solid state amp to run 20W. This combination is still lighter and MUCH more battery efficient than the FT-857. Battery efficiency is important to me as I often operate off grid for days at a time on canoe, backpack, and camping trips in addition to SOTA. For the same reason I still use the old style SLAB batteries because I can charge them directly from a small solar panel. For my style of operation this was a better choice than the FT-857, but it’s good and heavy.

Think of what you want to do now, and what you might like to do in the future and make a decision for your style of portable operation. Each activator has his/her good reasons for doing exactly what they choose to do, and one of the fun things about the hobby is experimenting to find what suits your needs best.

I hope you upgrade for HF privileges soon, and I’ll be looking for you when you do!

Jason, KE0FKE

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Welcome! Waiting for you on HF.
Best, Ken

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John, Welcome to Ham Radio and to SOTA! We look forward to hearing your signal on the airwaves. Feel free to ask the group lots of questions—you’ll find lots of help here. 73 Paul K9PM


I am going use what I got and hope to connect with people on the 2M FM. The furthest I have been able to reach with my antenna has been under the 50KM(<30Miles). For SOTA what type of antenna do people suggest using to target an area from the summit? Currently, I have a not so portable J-pole antenna and a rubber duck antenna.

I made it ~80 miles from the observation tower at the highest point in Wisconsin with 5W yeasu FT-60 and a full half wave telescoping whip. I’ve made it 130 miles or so from Split Rock Lighthouse on the west shore of Lake Superior to Isle Royal National Park with very good copy using a hand held three element beam by Arrow Antenna. In both instances I per-arranged to have people listening for me. The height and clear line of sight from a summit will do amazing things for you, but having someone to talk to is sometimes the harder part. Be sure to open up your squelch to catch those weak signals. See what you can do!

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I have an Arrow 146-4 backpacker 4 element yagi that I mount on an old camera tripod. Elevation is your friend for 2 metres. However I have talked to a mobile with my HT and a 5/8 wave antenna 74 km.


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